U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has conducted a rare “filibuster,” speaking for more than eights hours in the Congress to try and force Republicans to bring up an immigration bill in the chamber.
The California Democrat started talking shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday, saying that Democrats would oppose any funding bill unless House Speaker Paul Ryan agrees to bring a bipartisan immigration bill to the House floor for a vote.
A filibuster is a prolonged speech that obstructs progress in a legislative assembly while not technically contravening the required procedures. This case is not a classic filibuster since it is not obstructing the passage of specific legislation.
“There’s nothing partisan or political about protecting dreamers. If a Dream Act were brought to the floor, it would pass immediately with strong bipartisan support,” Pelosi said early in her speech, noting that 84 percent of Americans support a path to citizenship for the so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children.
“And, I commend my Republican colleagues for their courage in speaking out on this, yet our Dreamers hang in limbo with a cruel cloud of fear and uncertainty above them. The Republican moral cowardice must end,” she continued, referring to Republican leadership’s reluctance to bring a bill to the floor.
The House historian’s office said in a statement that Pelosi's speech was the longest continuous one it was “able to find on short notice.”
The last known record belonged to then-Rep. Champ Clark in 1909 at five hours and 15 minutes, the statement read, but he was repeatedly interrupted, unlike Pelosi.
Pelosi is demanding that the Republican leadership in the House commits to allow a vote on legislation protecting young undocumented immigrants.